Saturday, July 17, 2010

Missing an old friend

I went to Manassas Battlefield today to do a story about the park's marking the 149th anniversary of the Battle of 1st Manassas.  But I found my self in tears at a friend's grave down the road.

The unit pictured here is part of the USMC Historical Company.  The man in the foreground looking down at his rifle is an active duty Marine. So is the man directly behind him.  They were at Manassas to do a firing demonstration for the 149th anniversary celebration.  Both these men have been deployed "several times" though neither would say how many times or where.  One is from Jacksonville, NC and the other is from Bountiful, Utah.  The Corps owns the uniforms, equipment and weapons they use, but they keep it "ship shape" as long as they are part of the unit.  It was a pretty impressive display.

What got to me was that talking to their Gunnery Sergeant reminded me of my friend J.R. Davison, who died on Fathers' Day, 2008.  J.R. would have loved talking to this man. Both were Vietnam vets, both loved the Corps and both are about the same age.  J.R. also loved shooting, and these guys were shooting .64 caliber smooth bore weapons while their Gunny described such discipline as loading in 10 times and a bayonet charge.

It was J.R.'s grave where I ended up in tears.  You see he's buried at Stonewall Memory Gardens, which is part of the Second Manassas Battlefield, just down route 29 from the Henry House Hill where the firing demonstration was taking place.  He was my best friend and I miss him terribly.  I miss be able to call him on the phone and say "hey, there's a reenactment of the USMC at Manassas today. Wanna go?" He would have enjoyed it.

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